Liverpool are expected to rubber stamp Jörg Schmadtke’s appointment as their new sporting director this week, with Jurgen Klopp insisting he is “the club’s, not the manager’s signing”.
As first disclosed by Telegraph Sport this month, ex-Wolfsburg executive Schmadtke is to replace the outgoing Julian Ward to spearhead Liverpool’s recruitment team.
The arrival further strengthens the German presence at Anfield, Klopp having headhunted many of the sports science and technical staff from his home country over the course of his eight-year reign.
But when asked about Schmadtke’s qualities, he was adamant that should the deal proceed it was owners Fenway Sports Group who decided to press ahead, albeit Klopp is clearly enthused by the idea of them forming a close working relationship.
“If it happens, it would not be a Jurgen Klopp signing because we are both German or both know each other. That would have nothing to do with it. I can say that,” Klopp said.
“Jörg Schmadtke I have known a long, long time. He knows me probably not as long as I know him, because he was a much better player.
“But we started our second career at a similar moment. I became a coach at Mainz and he became sporting director at Aachen. Two teams of similar status, so from there we know each other a little bit.
“I know he is a good guy and a smart guy; very good at what he did in Germany, definitely, very successful. His character is good, his personality is good, his humour is good. I know that from a few moments next to the pitch.”
Klopp said he saw similarities between Schmadtke and Michael Zorc, his former Borussia Dortmund sporting director.
“Similar age group, similar situation, just a bit longer in retirement,” he said. “There are some good sporting directors in Germany you wouldn’t believe.”
Klopp’s comments will not undermine the sense that – on the football side of operations, at least – Liverpool are very much his club. There is no way FSG would be appointing Schmadtke without Klopp’s approval and indeed encouragement, even if the American owners would naturally have conducted their own thorough due diligence.
That managerial influence has been the way since Klopp’s early months in charge as the side began their upward trajectory, yet in many respects his power has become even more apparent during a difficult season.
At no point has Klopp’s position been under any threat, or even under significant internal scrutiny, as Liverpool looked set to fail to meet their minimum objective of Champions League football. That is a consequence of the good will Klopp has accumulated with his body of work at Anfield, and the clarity of his plan to lead the team through a transitional phase.
Owners FSG trust that this season is a blip and Klopp is already well advanced in his rebuild after an encouraging end to the season in which Liverpool hope to finish this weekend having collected 25 of the last 27 points available.